Palestinian President Yasser Arafat was almost certainly murdered. Finally, after almost 9 years since his death, an extensive investigation initiated by Al Jazeera has shown what many have suspected for years — Arafat did not die a natural death.
Al Jazeera has obtained an 108-page report (PDF) from the University Centre of Legal Medicine (CURML) in Lausanne, Switzerland, finding 18 times the normal levels of radioactive polonium, a rare lethal poison, in the remains of Arafat’s body.
“We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination.” Those are the words of Suha Arafat, President Arafat’s widow, in an interview with Reuters earlier today.
Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Fund and the Palestine Center in Washington, told Mondoweiss, “This confirms a lot of the suspicions many of us have had for a long time and what the previous inquiry suggested. The major question now is who is responsible for essentially a murder. There needs to be a proper investigation and justice should be sought out.”
In July 2012, after the testing of Arafat’s final personal belongings,”his clothes, his toothbrush, even his iconic kaffiyeh”, revealed Arafat was likely poisoned, French authorities launched a murder investigation and Suha Arafat called for his body to be exhumed so that medical examiners could test samples of his remains.
Arafat was in good health until he suddenly fell ill during the Second Intifada and his untimely death less than a month later was shrouded in suspicion, mystery and rumors.
From the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) Israel’s History of Assassinating Palestinian Leaders:
At the time, many Palestinians suspected that Arafat was murdered. Over the years, he had survived numerous assassination attempts by Israel, and just six months before his death then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that an agreement he had made with US President George W. Bush promising that Israel wouldn’t kill Arafat was no longer valid, stating: “I released myself from the commitment in regard to Arafat.”
Two years prior to that statement, in an interview published in February 2002, Sharon told an Israeli journalist that he regretted not killing Arafat when he had the chance during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, stating: “I am sorry that we did not liquidate him.” In 2002, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then in the opposition following his first term as prime minister (1996-1999), told the Likud party Central Committee: “We must completely and totally eradicate Arafat’s regime and remove him from the vicinity… This one thing must be understood: If we do not remove Arafat and his regime, the terror will return and increase. And only if we do remove them is there any chance of turning a new leaf in our relationship with the Palestinians.” When Arafat died, Netanyahu was serving as Minister of Finance in Sharon’s government.
Predictably, the Israeli government is denying participation in Arafat’s murder and has adopted a position his death was a result of old age and an unhealthy lifestyle, according to Reuters. Israel’s relentlessly obtuse and tone deaf Foreign Ministry has referenced Suha Arafat’s persistence in finding out how her husband died as a “soap opera”.
“This is more soap opera than science, it is the latest episode in the soap in which Suha opposes Arafat’s successors,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
Investigations into his demise amounted to “a highly superficial attempt to determine a cause of death.”
IMEU’s report includes a partial list of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian leaders. It’s worth reviewing.